News from the Top: Vibrant Parks & Public Spaces

May 21, 2019

Tami Door, President and CEO of the Downtown Denver Partnership serves as Chair of the International Downtown Association’s (IDA) Board of Directors. Tami offers her expertise in city building to members of IDA in her monthly News from the Top column.

Parks and public spaces enliven and strengthen our communities. They foster connections and make our spaces into places. Our public spaces attract people to our cities—and keep them there—helping to build sustainable economies.

As we head into summer and look to our parks as central gathering places, urban oases and sources of entertainment for all ages and walks of life, it’s important to continue to ask ourselves: What makes a great public space? We know that factors like size, amenities, investment and maintenance contribute to great spaces—but so much of what makes a space great is how people interact with them.

The Project for Public Spaces says “When someone enters a public space, their first instinct is to find a place for themselves—or to make one. The best public spaces embrace this human urge to improvise.”

People inherently want to create their own experiences and it is our jobs as city builders and stewards of our public spaces to help them do that.

Whether it’s providing moveable soft seating or informal activities like lawn games or chess boards, there are great benefits to deconstructing the public space experience and allowing users to take somewhat of a “DIY-approach” to their experience. As much as we need to provide the infrastructure, planning and leadership to build great parks, we must also allow people to take ownership of their own unique experiences.

As we collaborate with each other throughout the summer, I look forward to seeing how you are enhancing your public spaces, and how your users are creating their own special, memorable experiences.